Lights Out, Leonard: an all too relatable bedtime routine

lights out leonard.jpg

Some people are blessed with kids that love to sleep – unfortunately I’m not one of them. Bedtime is often crazy, long, and a battle. Ivy has just entered the ‘afraid of the dark’ stage, which has added a whole new dimension to bedtime.

We are all finding Lights Out, Leonard by Josh Pyke a little too relatable at the moment. It’s the story of a little boy (Leonard) who is NOT afraid of the dark.

Leonard was not afraid of the dark. That would be silly.

No, Leonard was afraid of the things that hid in the dark.

When it was time to go to sleep, Leonard’s mum kissed him goodnight. ‘Lights out, Leonard,’ she said. But Leonard cried ‘NO!’

Every time Leonard’s mum or dad come in to turn off the light Leonard cries ‘NO!’ and tells them all about the horrible monsters he can see in the room.

And then the page that any parent, anywhere, can relate to:

His mum and dad both sighed. They were tired.

So that night the lights in Leonard’s room stayed on.

This goes on for a long time, with Leonard becoming more and more frightened. Eventually Leonard’s parents have a stroke of genius and help Leonard overcome his fear of the monsters who live in the dark.

Lights Out, Leonard is a wonderful a conversation starter around ideas like:

-       We all have things we are afraid of

-       Allowing children/everyone time to process their concerns/worries

-       Ways to voice our fears or concerns

-       Our perception vs. reality (of course it was shadows that fuelled Leonards imagination)

-       Finding solutions outside the box

 Lights Out, Leonard is a beautifully funny story that is perfect for helping children and grown ups face their fears and find ways to help each other.

Lights Out, Leonard
by Josh Pyke illustrated by Chris Nixon – Puffin Books, 2019
ages 2 to 8 years / imagination + heartwarmers

Vision of Beauty: a mighty story of dignity and freedom

Vision of Beauty tells the story of Madame CJ Walker. And a fascinating story it is.

Madame Walker was born Sarah Breedlove, the youngest child in her family and the first person in her family to be born free. Her family were slaves in Louisiana until emancipation in 1865. 

Sarah was born in 1867 and lived an extraordinary life.

During her at once difficult and blessed life, Sarah married twice, had a daughter, and built a cosmetics empire. 

The story is carefully pieced together so that the historically verifiable parts of Sarah’s life are blended with the broader history of her communities and with just enough artistic license to make it easy to read. There’s quite a bit of text on each page for what is also a picture book (and the pictures are wonderful – sometimes troubling, sometimes joyful, sometimes full of despair, sometimes full of hope).

Beginning in the late 1870’s, each short chapter spans a number of years in Sarah’s life and we follow her from being a very young child who works with her family sharecropping, through to just prior to her death at the age of just 51. 

There are insights into the life of poverty and struggle that was the seemingly inevitable lot of colored people immediately following emancipation. (The author Kathryn Lasky explains that she uses the term ‘colored’ to be consistent with the time that Madame Walker lived.) But Sarah manages to rise above her circumstances.

In desperation, having lost almost all of her family and her husband and with her hair falling out, Sarah prays and then starts searching for a homemade cure. 

It's this homemade cure that is the starting point for Sarah’s empire.

This isn’t a religious book – there is just one mention of prayer – but it is certainly inspiring. Best of all, Sarah’s ongoing desire to lift others comes through loud and clear.

There are lots of jumping off points in this story too – mentions of aspects of history that could be more fully investigated such as the emancipation of slaves in the US; the Ku Klux Klan; the rampant effect of Yellow Fever and Cholera; voting rights for women; segregation, discrimination and so on.

With the story of Madame Walker tucked away in memory, we all may choose to work a little harder, forgive and move on a little quicker, care a little more for others, and remember our own self worth a little more easily. Such a wonderful book. 

by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Nneka Bennett - Turtleback Books, 2012
ages 4 to 12 years / diversity, powerful lives, s.o.s.e.

BuyNowButton (1).png


Names in this book: Owen, Minerva, Alex, Louvenia, Sarah, Leiia, Margaret

a favourite book to explore night, independence and family life

a favourite book to explore night, independence and family life

ages 0 to 8 years
Have you ever heard the patter of little feet in the night and found toys and books scattered around the house in the morning? It used to be an almost nightly routine at our place.
In this tender story Hannah wakes and, ‘surprised to find that it was still dark’, discovers that her family is soundly asleep.
She gently finds her way around, pouring milk for her cat, eating cherries without permission, and borrowing some of her sister’s precious possessions.

Read More

5 books that comfort and prepare for a move away from much-loved people and places

5 books that comfort and prepare for a move away from much-loved people and places

ages 3 to around 8 years
Change in any form can be hard (not just for children!) but moving to somewhere new and leaving people you love can be particularly difficult for little ones. Our move to Tasmania is happening next week...

Read More

putting a name to emotions and feelings

putting a name to emotions and feelings

ages 0 to 8 years

Childhood is a wondrous and joyful time. Everything is magical and full of wonder. But it's easy to forget that childhood is also intense!

Those small bodies can experience such BIG emotions. Learning to understand, process and communicate emotions is a difficult process.

A book that's been incredibly helpful in our home recently is In My Heart: A Book Of Feelings.

Read More

integrity, kindness and creativity can change the world

integrity, kindness and creativity can change the world

ages baby to 8 years
I lent this book to my children’s school and it disappeared for a week or two. I shouldn’t have worried – it came back to me with a new plastic cover, making it one of our most carefully preserved books! Here's how it goes:

Annabelle lives in a cold and colourless little town, but one day she finds a box of yarn of all sorts of colours. So she knits herself a sweater. Then, since there is ‘extra yarn’, she knits her dog a sweater.

Read More

overcoming embarrassment and failure through courage and embracing your own talents

overcoming embarrassment and failure through courage and embracing your own talents

Funny, inspiring story of Caramba, a cat who can't fly in a world where all cats can fly. There's heartache along the way but with the support of a good friend Caramba finds just the right niche - there's a place for everyone after all.
ages 0 to 8 years

Read More